The problem with the internet is simply that there is often just way to damn much.
At our fingertips we have the ability to find, practically, anything we want and with music it’s abundantly clear, especially with Hip Hop. I’m in no way endorsing the ideals of the RIAA, as I can’t deny being a huge music head and keeping up with this love affair, legally, would quite literally break me (see: freshman year of college) and force some sort of therapy or counseling; something. What I am trying to say is that with so much music, it’s impossible for things to not be lost in the shuffle, and my saving grace more times than not, is the shuffle.
Recently I came across; “To Serve with Love” by Black Spade, which on initial listening got a very quick pass from me. Something about the kookiness of “To Serve With Love’s Intro”, left me quickly baffled and I immediately brushed it to the side for some tried and true. As with all my music it doesn’t really disappear, just takes a back seat and when I get bored with the good stuff I put my music on shuffle. That’s when I came across Black Spade’s “Evil Love”, that I first thought was some Little Brother track I some how missed because, like Phonte of LB, Black Spade spices his choruses up by adding his own singing, both deep and soulful. “Evil Love” begins with Black playing the tenor over production reminiscent of Sa Ra, in that it is heavily electronic with just a sprinkling of xylophone here and there to lighten the mood. The production, by Black himself, is definitely worth the ol’ kick to the amp, and coupled with both Black’s singing and emceeing we have a worthy addition to any Hip Hop relationship/love playlist you might have brewing. “Evil Love” definitely provided me with the motivation to give “To Serve With Love” a proper spin, and throughout, it continues to shine with brilliant tracks like “Revolutionary Bullshit”, “She’s the One”, and “The Genius In You” an ode to Black’s favorite artists, i.e. Dilla, Roots, ATCQ.
After a few spins, I had to see if anyone else had discovered this amazing piece of work, so I hit up “Rate Your Music”, and low and behold, nothing, but there was a Black Spade, yet under Om Records? For anyone who’s not a huge House fan, Om Records is the premier House label reppin’ artists like Kaskade, Mark Farina, and Miguel Migs. But, Om isn’t just House, as it also maintains a Hip Hop sub label, simply labeled Om Hip Hop. And, that’s when it hit me, something about Om Hip Hop acts always leaves me discovering how amazing their work is days, weeks, sometimes months after I pick up their albums and always, always, due to the ol’ shuffle.
For instance People Under the Stairs. I first checked out PUTS upon their first release wanting to check out the artists who felt it necessary to name their band after the bad ass John Carpenter flick and honestly I was not impressed. This may have had to do with the fact that at the time I was really into the gangster sounds of West Coast Hip Hop, and party rap just wasn’t my thing. Needless to say I would continue to bootleg their albums but never really give them a thorough listen until shuffle brought to my attention “Earth Travelers” from Questions in the Form of an Answer. “Earth Travelers” blew me away, both in the production from Thes One and the lyrics from Double K. Thes One’s composition is so mellow and brooding that it signifies the entire mood and tempo of the setting sun out here in the West. The cut is beautiful, with Thes finding it necessary to inlay just a light resonating bass and the snare throughout was enough to give the track an old school feeling. The piano loops are so haunting and memorable that even as the track comes close to an end you won’t even notice as you’ve already restarted it. Double K and Thes both drop some nasty lyrics, straying away from the party rhymes for rhymes about their love of Hip Hop, where Thes spits such memorable lines as “I line my lyrical campaign through vocal grain/ with well train thoughts/ I spot stains in the fabric of time with the magic of mind/ I fabricate rhyme connects then harvest pop culture with old record collects”. After listening to this, “Earth Travelers” would become a prime example of why I’m so infatuated with Hip Hop, you will no doubt want to get into everything from PUTS and you will no doubt find even more dope lyrics and ill beats.
Another Om Hip Hop label act, I initially slept on/hated on; Zeph and Azeem. Something about Azeem’s flow just put me off and I never gave the team the time I really needed to get into their music. That’s until, once again, shuffle blessed me with “Time To Wake Up”. As much as I love Hip Hop, I love Roots Reggae/Dub just as much if not more, and Zeph’s production pulls from the greatest works of Lee Perry and other great Dub acts. Joyo Velarde’s sensual voice caught me after the initial dumbification of the beat and all that was left was for Azeem’s rhymes to pull me in deeper. Though, I still don’t see much in his delivery, the clarity in his rhymes is deep and the intelligence crafted into his lyrics is heavy causing for several “WTF??” moments, check it: “We’re hooked on drama/we’re hooked on chicken breast and dreams/ we’re hooked on love and anger/ fancy named expensive things/ on amf amnesia/ on schemes to survive/ the truth is blind behind almost every fortune is a crime”,….see what I mean? From what I understand of Azeem, he is a San Francisco slam poet champ, and it becomes obvious as you delve deeper and deeper into “Rise Up”. ”Rise Up” was and still is slept on, so if you got an hour to kill put “Rise Up” on, give the crazy ass production a chance, and let Azeem spit some real shit to you.
Be on the look out around March time for Black Spade’s To Serve With Love, or get on your search engine and hustle if you need another ’08 banger…..-Spaise